Dosa (Bloomington, MN)

Dosa opened on Lyndale Avenue in Bloomington about five months ago and is one of the latest manifestations of the ongoing phenomenon of South Indian restaurant openings in the Twin Cities metro. I have not yet been able to confirm or quantify this with numbers from the latest census, but my observations indicate that the Indian population of the area continues to grow and that this growing population is not just largely South Indian but likely dominated by people from Andhra Pradesh/Telangana. Unlike many of the other relatively recently opened South Indian restaurants, however, Dosa is not—as far as I know—part of a franchise. At least, their website makes no note of any affiliation. So in this they are closer to Kabob’s Indian Grill (also in Bloomington) than to Kumar’s in Apple Valley or Godavari in Eden Prairie. We had a very nice meal there this past weekend with good friends and I am happy to be able to recommend them to anyone looking for good Indian food in the area.

I said above that in terms of operation they are closer to their fellow denizens of Bloomington, Kabob’s. In terms of ambience, however, they are several levels above Kabob’s decidedly hole-in-the-wall aesthetic. That’s not to say that they are either as large as or have invested quite as much in interior decoration and amenities as either Kumar’s or Godavari. It’s a medium-sized restaurant with a bright look and comfortable seating but you shouldn’t expect either very attractive cutlery or glasses for water (instead each diner gets a bottle of water). The menu too is not quite as capacious as that of Godavari’s. It includes the North Indian all-stars that most Americans are probably looking for but the real calling card is the selection of South Indian dishes, of which there are quite a few. We ordered primarily from this subset of the menu.

What did we get? Well, when you eat at a restaurant named Dosa you have to order a dosa. We got the Benne Dosa and quite liked it. The inside is smeared with a spicy chutney and filled with a potato-based masala. It came with coconut chutney (quite good), tomato-onion chutney (good) and sambar (good, if a little sweeter than I like). From the same part of the menu we also got an order of the Ghee Idli and the Vada. Both were served with the same accompaniments as the dosa. I quite liked the idli (cut into chunks and sitting on a pool of ghee) but thought the vadas were just about okay: the exterior not crisp enough and the interior a tad on the stodgy side.

We also got some non-veg starters: the Madurai Chicken Pepper Fry and the Goat Ghee Roast. Both of these were very good. They were not, however, as spicy as we expected. We were asked how hot we wanted them and we indicated the highest level (5/5); however, while not mild, they weren’t really notably hot. For the boys we got an order of the Tandoori Chicken and some naans (plain and garlic). They liked the chicken fine but said it was not in their top three or four in the metro. In fact, they preferred their bites of the chicken pepper fry. I did not taste the tandoori chicken myself so cannot rule on it but I can say that the naans were also no great shakes: too doughy. Their menu says they use unleavened dough and that might have something to do with it.

You might think the above is a lot of food already but we had just gotten started. The mains included their Tomato Dal (quite good), the Hyderabadi-style Eggplant Stir-Fry (very good) and the Vegetable Chettinadu (also very good). To this we added an order of the Andhra Chicken Curry (also very good) and a Hyderabdai-style lamb biryani (good). The latter came with a meat salan/gravy and raita.

In addition to the naans and the excessive amount of rice (every entree came with a lot of steamed rice) we got an order of parathas. Two to the order, these were Malabar-style parathas and were just okay (like the naans, they were too dense/doughy). Being utterly stuffed, we passed on dessert.

For a look at the restaurant and the food, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for thoughts on service, to see how much it cost and for my take on the experience as a whole.

Service was very friendly. While it was not hugely busy in the dining room while we were there, they were doing very brisk takeout business and towards the end the staff seemed a little more preoccupied with that end of things—it took a while to get boxes for the leftovers and also the check. But the main takeaway here is that they seem to be doing good business, which is good.

Price? All of the above plus a Sprite, tax and tip came to $208. We were four adults and two hungry boys and given the leftovers generated I would say it was enough food for at least eight hungry adults (portions are generous). So just above $25/head which seems like a good value for both quality and quantity. While I wouldn’t put them in the top ranks of the 2022 edition of my Twin Cities South Asian Restaurant Rankings—head to head Godavari’s versions of everything we ate here were clearly superior—we enjoyed the meal on the whole, and would happily eat here again and explore more of the menu.

Now, if you are someone who is more interested in the North Indian all-stars, they are—as I said—on the menu. (Though in some cases, the menu needs a bit of parsing: alu-gobi is listed as “Potato & Cauliflower Curry” and dal makhni as “Black Lentil & Beans Curry”.) I can’t speak to the quality of those dishes as we barely tried them. I would encourage you, however, to try some of the South Indian dishes. Ask them for guidance—they’ll be happy to help.

All in all, a good meal. One of the friends dining with us is also Indian and we were musing about the ease with which good South Indian food can now be had in the area. When we arrived in Minnesota in 2007, to eat a dosa we’d have to drive way north to Central Ave. in North Minneapolis—and there was next to no South Indian non-vegetarian food available (even though that’s the bulk of actual South Indian cuisines). Now there are something like six South Indian restaurants in the South Metro alone that we’d be happy to eat at: Dosa, Kabob’s and Aroma (both also in Bloomington), Kumar’s (in Apple Valley) and the Bay Leaf and Persis (in Eagan). I continue to wonder if the professional food critics will ever notice how the scene has changed.

Alright, what’s next from the Twin Cities? Probably Mexican food in St. Paul. That’ll be in a week. I’ll also resume my Los Angeles and Kauai reports on the weekend (I took a break this past weekend).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.